Farmers Markets : Caroline Wright - 24 January 2009

First published in Features

THROUGHOUT January we have been looking at new foods for 2009 that you can eat to bring a little something different into your life.

This week we’ll be checking out some different veg – some that you might not have had before, but others that simply need looking at with fresh eyes.

If you head to today’s Worcestershire farmers’ market, you’ll find plenty of beetroot on the stalls.

Now, let’s say loud and clear that there is plenty more to beetroot than just pickling.

Early in its season it can be enjoyed raw in salads (baby beetroot is delicious when it is grated raw), and later in the season it’s very tasty boiled or even baked. And, of course, it adds the most fantastic colour to meals.

Raw beetroot is a great source of vitamin C, though this is watersoluble, so bear that in mind if you’re boiling it.

It’s also a terrific source of iron and is now thought to be one of the range of ‘superfoods’ of which we should all be eating more.

Recent scientific research has linked beetroot juice to a reduction in the risk of heart disease.

Roger Styan, of Styan Family Produce, said: “I love beetroot – our family like it roasted. Chop up some potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and beetroot and roast them all together at the same time as your Sunday roast.”

Of course, there are plenty of people who enjoy pickled beetroot and it certainly is one of the best vegetables to be preserved and eaten that way.

Roger also has some purple sprouting broccoli available at the moment which, he says, is best eaten as soon as possible after you’ve bought it.

Sadly, it won’t stay purple once it’s cooked – it turns green. It’s really good steamed, stir-fried or with cheese in a quiche.

If you’re looking for a taste of summer, however, head to the Akiki Organics stall.

Owner Charbel Akiki has some fresh mustard leaves and pak choi which have been grown under polytunnels all winter.

Charbel said: “The mustard leaves have been great. We lost quite a few things to frost this season, but the mustard leaves have just kept on growing.

“Eat them raw, in salads. They have a nice, spicy taste and go well with feta cheese.

“The pak choi is also growing well and we should have some on our stall.”

Pak choi tastes fabulous when cooked quickly, with plenty of garlic, in a stir fry.

Today’s Worcestershire farmers’ market is at St Peter’s Garden Centre, Norton, near Worcester, from 9.30am until 2pm.

Next week’s market is at Royal Worcester Porcelain, on Sunday, February 1, from 10am until 2pm.

For more information about Worcestershire farmers’ markets, log on towfmg.co.uk.

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